Thursday, December 8, 2016

Overcoming Misconceptions About the Immaculate Conception

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

St. Nick, Jesus Writes, and Christmas Card Regret: An Advent post

My kids are the luckiest.  I never even knew that St. Nicholas Day was a thing until my kids started going to Catholic school, and didn't start doing anything at home until the kids asked why St. Nick only visited schools.  With no good answer, we started giving them something small in their stockings.  Some years, I am on the ball and get a thoughtful gift for each child, and some years (like this one) everybody gets a chocolate Santa St. nick and tub o' gum (tic tacs for the fresh-breath-obsessed two year old).

The early birds get the worms.

At the kid's school, they all made little shoes out of paper, after some wise moms thought about how disgusting the school hallways would smell if every kid left a shoe out there all night.  Those same wise moms then met on Monday night and filled the little paper shoes with a candy cane, chocolate coins, a prayer card about St. Nick, and this cute St. Nick candy bar.  We decorated the stage with some Christmas trees and faux presents and fireplace, and the kids thought it was all so magical.  Alexander was so so so very excited for "the REAL St. Nick to come to the school and visit.  NOT a guy in costume, the REAL St. Nick."  

St. Nick 2014

After the day was over I asked him if he met St. Nick and he said "Well, it was actually just a guy in a costume because I heard my teacher whisper to another teacher that his costume looked really great this year".  Shattered.dreams.  But stuffing his face with candy healed his broken heart.


On an unrelated note, Maggie and Eamon were discussing whether Jesus was right or left handed, and Maggie said, "I know He's right handed.  He sits at the right hand of the Father."  Well there you go.  


On another unrelated note, I have major CCR this year.  That's Christmas Card Regret.  I got my kids coordinating outfits, went to a cool place to shoot the photo, and then couldn't decide between two shots.  This was one of them:

and the other was the one I eventually chose for the card.  The problem is that while the photo looks better staged and the background is interesting, there are too many shadows and the kids are so small in the picture that you can't see their cute little faces.  Phil thinks it's the better, more interesting choice, but I think people want to see what the kids look like each year, and they have to squint and hold this one up to some good lighting to do that. Ah well, just know if you get a card from us this year that it's not my favorite and blame Phil, mkay?

I feel better explaining that ;)  Carry on Adventing, everybody.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Parenting with Perserverance

One of the hardest parts of parenting for someone (ahem) who tends towards laziness, is the constant need to discipline, teach, interact, and keep an eye on children.  They need our attention and almost any daily situation is an opportunity of learning and growth for them.  It can be exhausting.  Especially the discipline side of it, that's never fun, and I find that I have totally eased up on the littles than I did for the biggies.  Sometimes, letting go is okay but usually I just don't want to actually get off my keister and deal with the drama.  

Yesterday, Andrew and Eamon (ages 12 and 10) played a CYO basketball game.  This year is so nice because they can both play on the same team.  After years of practicing together, they can finally put it to the test in games.  And boy oh boy are they fun to watch.  They are fast, they are aggressive, they know how to really play the game.  They can read each other so well and as Maggie said, they "pass, pass, score".  Phil and I actually argue over who gets to watch their games, because it's just that enjoyable.  We are so proud of the hardworking athletes they have become.  Andrew, as the oldest on the team, is particularly great in his leadership role, helping the younger kids know where to go, continually passing them the ball to try and let them score, and cheering them on.

After the game, the coach's wife stopped me to tell me what a fine young man Andrew is.  She said "We can all see what he's doing out there on the court, and I actually had to turn away to wipe my eyes because it's so beautiful to see."  I started crying, of course, and thanked her.  He is a fine young man, indeed and it made me even prouder to hear how beautifully his soul is developing along with his athleticism.  I can't take any credit whatsoever for the great things my kids do, and I can't punish myself too much for the mistakes they make.  They are each their own.  However, it made me realize how the small, daily minutiae all adds up and becomes a greater sum.

When we teach our toddlers to take turns with the toy,
They become people who know how to share the spotlight.

When we don't let them have dessert until they finish their dinner,
We teach them that delayed gratification is the sweetest.

When we give them a daily routine,
 They learn time management.

When we feed them wholesome food, get them to bed on time, and keep them active,
They learn how to keep their bodies healthy and happy.

When we send them to timeout for a bad decision,
They learn that their actions have consequences.

When we lose our temper and our patience is gone,
They learn how to accept an apology and dole out mercy.

When we show them how to be kind,
They become a true friend.

When we teach them to treat others as they want to be treated,
They become people of honor, respect, and trust.

When we make them apologize for hurting someone's feelings,
They become compassionate adults and future saints.

And when we do our best to raise them, despite our flaws,
They become better people than us.

Sometimes wiping faces and dirty bums, filling sippy cups and slicing apples, doling out kisses and punishments on the daily can make a tired parent.  But these little moments matter.  You matter.  One day those little kids grow up and surprise you that in spite of yourself, they turn out pretty awesome.  Where there's love, there's grace, and anything is possible with perseverance.

Friday, December 2, 2016

7qt: Thanksgiving, A Birthday and Advent, Oh My!

Tagging along with Kelly and friends because it's Friday!!


Thanksgiving Happened:

JP set the table and I just loved the way he folded the napkins.  We used our wedding china for the first time ever!  We hosted this year because it was a small crowd, just our family, my sister's family and my parents.

Mr. Brendan loved his first Thansgiving too!


I can't believe we are closing out the first week of Advent already!  This year, Christmas is overwhelming me a little.  While gift-giving is normally my love language, this year it all just feels like too much.  We are strongly considering just doing a family gift this year for the kids, if it all works out in time, and if not I think the presents might be scarce this year.  All families have years like this, right?  Years where finances are bigger (hello new baby!  diapers!  formula!  daycare! for two!) and parents are so tired physically and mentally that the thought of shopping make me want to crawl into bed and wake up in 2017.  But I don't want the kids to feel like a new sibling = less special Christmas for them.  I think trying to keep each kid feeling loved and happy and treasured is one of the hardest parts of being a parent of many.  It certainly gives me lots of mom guilt.


Yesterday was Maggie's NINTH birthday!!

She always seems older than her age.

Gammy and Grandpa gave her that huge puppy, and Declan promptly stole it!

As excited as Maggie was, I think Xander was even more!

We got her an Easy-Bake Oven (Wow, that price!  I got it for less than $40!) and kit to go with it.  I feel like this is one of those presents that she's too old for but Xander really wanted it too, so it's a two-for-one deal.  She also wanted the first book in this series, and needed some clothes, especially jeans that aren't skinny, which are nearly impossible to find!  Seriously, at Children's Place, their girl's jean categories are: Skinny, Super Skinny, Jeggings, or Boot Cut.  So boot cut it was.


Maggie's teacher this year is really awesome for imparting theology all throughout their day, and Maggie has been learning so much.  We were on a walk the other day, and crossed a bridge where we could see the street we had already walked down.  I said "Hey, we were just there and now we're here!" And she said "If we were Padre Pio we could be in both places at the same time!"  

Another day, I was arranging for her best friend to come over to play and once I had gotten all the logistics of it worked out with the friend's mother, I went in to tell Maggie.  Knowing she was going to be super excited for a playdate, I jokingly said "I have some good news, but first tell me who's your favorite mother?" And she turned to me and said "Mary.  Why?"


We had Xander's godFather over for dinner last weekend, and he had brought some wine.  When Xander took a drink from his water cup, he said "Is this wine?"  We told him that is was only water, and Fr. Jay said "I wish I could turn water into wine!" and Xander looked at him and said "Well, Monsignor (our pastor) could do it."


I was on the ball this year with our Christmas card photos.  Don't expect it to happen again ;)  I don't want to show you the exact photo we used for the card, but I'll show you some of the poses we didn't use.  All our boys already had a white button down shirt and black pants, and Maggie had this beautiful dress handed down (similar) to her from a cousin.  I found some matching ties and an outfit for Brendan, and it was the least amount of money I've spent on Christmas card attire ever.  And you know these are going to be their Christmas Mass outfits too ;)


That was a lot, this one's a freebie.

Have a wonderful first weekend of December everybody!